Bankhead Middle celebrates STEM certification

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 12/12/19

Bankhead Middle School is now one of only two STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) certified schools in Walker County and the first to receive the distinction in Walker County Schools.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

Bankhead Middle celebrates STEM certification

Posted

Bankhead Middle School is now one of only two STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) certified schools in Walker County and the first to receive the distinction in Walker County Schools.

After a two-day visit from Cognia, an education organization that offers a number of support services for schools (including certification), Bankhead was named an Internationally Certified STEM School.

Principal Amber Freeman said the achievement comes after five years of incorporating STEM activities into everyday classroom instruction at Bankhead.

"The STEM certification is just the icing on the cake because we were doing all of that anyway, and we didn't do it just to be STEM certified. We were doing it before STEM certification was the new thing to do," Freeman said. "We had to prepare our evidence and things we had been doing over the past five years to fit the criteria they had set forth."

She said STEM began at Bankhead with the formation of the school's award-winning robotics team. Now the school has a number of clubs that focus on the STEM concepts of critical thinking and teamwork — all while learning science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills.

"Those all incorporate those STEM standards and the skills that students need to make it through life, such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity," Freeman said. "I want to give the students here all of those experiences and exposure to the different things they wouldn't be able to do if they were just sitting in regular reading, math, science and social studies classes."

In addition to STEM-driven activities, Freeman said one goal toward STEM certification was making sure each student in the school had access to technology.

"One of my main goals was to be one to one, student to device ratio. We are the only school in Walker County that is one to one, and we've been one to one for two years," she said. "Our students carry their own device with them all day long. That's not something that the system has done, but that was one of my main goals."

Freeman said teachers have attended many professional development sessions to learn various methods for integrating STEM across the curriculum as well.

During the two-day visit from Cognia, students, administrators, parents, community representatives, and others were interviewed for Cognia representatives to hear how STEM has impacted school culture.

Freeman said she was "absolutely ecstatic" on Wednesday afternoon when she and the school's STEM leadership team learned Bankhead was named a STEM certified school.

"I knew we were doing what we needed to do here," Freeman said. "They understand the purpose of what we have going on here, and they spoke so highly of the culture and the attitude of the kids."

Bankhead is one of few middle schools that has earned STEM certification and is among fewer than 30 schools in Alabama with the distinction.  There are fewer than 250 international certified STEM schools worldwide. 

Moving forward, Freeman said Bankhead will continue implementing additional STEM activities, which she hopes will involve collaboration with community members and leaders.